3D-printed food to ‘sentient’ chatbots – five Big Ideas Live highlights | Science & Tech News
From Britain’s role in the space race and the future of warfare, to 3D-printed burgers and robots delivering pretzels, Big Ideas Live certainly ran the gamut when it came to how science and technology is affecting our world.
There were opportunities for visitors to try some of the innovations they can welcome into their home, including online shopping in the metaverse, while flagship panels dived deep into the big tech, social media and more.
One such panel produced a revelation about Facebook’s history tackling election interference content, while Twitter’s future under Elon Musk was a running theme.
We don’t blame you if you couldn’t keep up – here are five highlights you may have missed.
Ex-Google engineer insists chatbot AI is sentient
Former Google engineer Blake Lemoine spoke to Sky News data and forensics correspondent Tom Cheshire about working with artificial intelligence, after his sacking this year for claiming its new chatbot was sentient.
He used his appearance at the show to double down on his assertion, claiming it gave him “the most sophisticated conversation about sentience I’d ever had”.
“It understood what it was, what its relationship to the rest of the world was, that it wasn’t human, and that it had very sophisticated ideas and opinions that I’d never encountered before about these topics,” he added.
We put Google’s new chatbot to the test
3D printing gets you food – and fashion
One of the technological innovations on show was 3D-printed meat – yes, really.
Edwin Bark, senior vice-president of Redefine Meat, explained that the process could “replicate the very complex structure of meat” in a way that most mainstream plant-based options do not.
Elements such as fat, blood and muscle can be taken into account, allowing for the creation of different “cuts” of meat.
And if that wasn’t enough, 3D printing was also presented as a way to enhance fashion.
Ofer Libo, from Stratasys, explained how a process called polyjets produces smooth, accurate parts, which can be added to fabric, offering designers a “whole new set of tools to work with”.
“It enables you to create very elaborate designs in terms of geometry, light, and texture,” he added.
UK’s first rocket launch is nearly upon us
Cosmic Girl, a reworked Virgin Atlantic Boeing 747 plane, will take off from the port near Newquay, and will release a rocket capable of carrying satellites into orbit.
Melissa Thorpe, the head of Spaceport Cornwall, told Sky News science correspondent Thomas Moore that years of work was finally “coming to fruition”.
“We’re really proud of what this about to do for the UK,” she said – with the launch expected this month.
Can the UK become a science superpower?
Artwork that leaps off the wall
One of the most eye-catching exhibits was a painting with a difference by artist Tim Fowler.
Visitors were invited to scan a QR code nearby, which open up a snippet of the Adobe Aero augmented reality app on your phone – promising to display his piece in 3D via a recreation by Mohamad Aaqib.
Once you’ve scanned your surroundings with your phone’s camera, up pops the art, now in 3D and on your device’s screen and scaled to the environment – meaning anyone could take this fine piece of art home as a souvenir.
‘We are a long way from killer robots’
Technology can be as frightening as it is exciting, and science-fiction certainly hasn’t done the perception of AI many favours over the years.
But Nigel Inkster, a former director of operations at MI6, offered the reassuring assertion that we won’t have to worry about Terminator-style “killer robots” any time soon.
Speaking more broadly about the deployment of cyber capabilities in modern warfare, Mr Inkster said the Ukraine conflict was evidence the tactics of the 20th century remain most effective.
“Russia’s decided that rather than take out infrastructure using cyber means, it’s easier just to physically destroy it,” noted the former spy chief.
As for Ukraine’s troops, they have “defeated a much larger and on the face of it better prepared force through skill of individual commanders on the ground”.